With such a large percentage of the territory’s population residing there, the Eighth District should be the focus of economic development, but in recent years, it has been neglected, said Marlon Penn at his campaign launch Saturday evening.
“Economic empowerment must be a priority for our country and for the Eighth District,” Mr. Penn said. He added that there are many opportunities for development in the district, and that marine resources in particular should be a focus.
If elected, Mr. Penn said he would work to “develop the infrastructure that is required to support” marine-based industries such as fishing, boat rentals, boat servicing, fish farming and water sports.
“Red Bay Fisherman Dock in three and a half years should be more than just a picture on a piece of plyboard,” Mr. Penn said. “We have the largest underdeveloped waterfront harbour, we have several beaches in close proximity with easy access, creating a perfect environment for water-based economic activity.”
Mr. Penn said another way to build the territory’s economy is to invest in the youth.
“I do not mean just holding a slow and stop sign on the sewage project or cutting bush twice a year,” Mr. Penn said. Instead, he supports creating a skills academy to teach young people the skills they need to provide for their families, he added.
The current government, he said, has not done enough for youths in terms of schools or recreation.
“The physical infrastructure at the Willard Wheatley Primary School is in disrepair and is in urgent need of modernisation,” Mr. Penn said, describing a leaky staff room and unsheltered assembly area. “We need a leader that will take our school system into the 21st Century.”
Territory-wide, Mr. Penn said he wants to see more planning go into development decisions.
“This means that we don’t build million-dollar sidewalks in one district and forget about the rest,” he said. “We should create a national programme for pedestrian walkways and prioritise where they should be built.” He added that the lack of sidewalks in the territory has caused “many” pedestrian accidents.
National Democratic Party leader Dr. Orlando Smith described Mr. Penn, a long-time information technology manager at the Financial Services Commission, as being “close to the community.”
The 34-year-old grew up in Parham Town and is a member of the East End Methodist Church’s Young Adults group, the East End/Long Look Advocates for a Better Community, and the territory’s Big Brother/Big Sister programme.
Mr. Penn likely will be running against another Penn: Deputy Premier Dancia Penn. He described the incumbent as having failed to deliver on her campaign promises.
“I am here tonight, not to bring promises,” he said, “I represent the right kind of leadership: one that will listen, one that will respond, one that will deliver.”